On Monday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams unveiled recommendations from the Office Adaptive Reuse Task Force and Department of City Planning which could pave the way for transforming vacant offices across into as many as 20,000 homes.

“With this study, we have a roadmap to deliver on a vision for a more vibrant, resilient, prosperous, and affordable city,” said Adams in a statement. “The need for housing is desperate, and the opportunity offered by underused office space is clear — we know what we need to do. These concrete reforms would clear red tape and create the incentives to create the housing we need for New Yorkers at all income levels. I want to thank the members of the task force for helping to chart the course, and I look forward to working with them and our partners in city and state government to deliver these much-needed reforms.”

The strategies outlined in the New York City Office Adaptive Reuse Study, according to a news release, would enable the adaptive reuse of approximately 136 million square feet of office space - a total which is equivalent to all of the office space in Philadelphia. Under current regulations, roughly 200 million square feet of office space is eligible for conversion to housing.

The 11 recommendations include:

  • Expanding the universe of office buildings with the most flexible regulations for conversion to residential use from buildings constructed through 1961 to those constructed through 1990 — easing the potential conversion process for an additional 120 million square feet of office space;
  • Expanding flexible conversion regulations to all high-intensity office districts, including Downtown Flushing and the Bronx Hub — easing the potential conversion process for an additional 16 million square feet of office space;
  • Finding opportunities to allow housing, whether through conversions or new construction, in a centrally located, high-density part of Midtown that currently prohibits residential development;
  • Allowing office buildings to convert to various much-needed types of housing, including supportive housing;
  • Providing flexibility for offices to convert all existing space into housing, eliminating limitations that incentivize only partial conversions or make conversion projects infeasible;
  • Exploring and pursuing a tax incentive program to support the production of affordable and mixed-income housing through office conversions — adding to the city’s affordable housing stock without deterring other private investment in conversions and housing creation; and
  • Creating a property tax abatement program to incentivize retrofitting office space for child care centers, building on Mayor Adams’ “Accessible, Equitable, High-Quality, Affordable: A Blueprint for Child Care & Early Childhood Education in New York City.”